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How to harness the power of online video, without breaking the bank

How to harness the power of online video, without breaking the bank

By Chris Bunyan, managing director, Localstars
While it may still be in its infancy, online video advertising is one of the fastest growing areas of digital marketing spend - nearly doubling during 2010 according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). Given the power that video has to engage audiences and show off a brand to best effect, this growth can only continue.

Not just for TV advertisers

Much of the activity in online video advertising is coming from the big TV advertisers who are using the web to extend the reach of their existing TV ad campaigns. But video can be a lot less costly to create and deliver than a big budget TV campaign, which means there are opportunities for smaller businesses and those without such deep pockets to harness its power without breaking the bank. 

If you don’t already have the content for your digital video ad, there are a growing number of video production companies that can shoot and edit content at affordable rates, well within the reach of small to medium sized businesses. And digital advertising agencies are now increasingly familiar with developing campaigns involving video.

Available video ad formats

While the formats for video adverts are still evolving, it is useful to understand that there are essentially two main groups; ads that run inside other video content - called in-stream ads - and standalone ads (also known as in-page ads).

In-stream ads, can be divided further into pre-, mid- or post-roll, depending on whether they are placed before, during or after the actual video content you may be watching - from catch-up TV services, to videos on news sites and, of course, YouTube. These ads are akin to TV ads in that they ‘interrupt’ whatever the viewer is watching.

In page ads are different in that they appear in a fixed size and placement on a web page. They are commonly designed to fit IAB standard ad sizes, such as rectangles, skyscrapers and leaderboards. 

Most video adverts tend to be 15 seconds long, which is quickly starting to become an industry standard. This is considered long enough to get the advertiser’s message across while being brief enough to keep web site visitors engaged right to the end.

Automated creation services

Video is no longer the preserve of the big advertisers. For those who want to gain the benefits of video while keeping spend to a minimum, new automated video creation services are emerging that can create a 15 second ad for your business using professionally shot library footage. This type of service is often specifically targeted at smaller businesses. So whether the advertiser is a skip hire company, a car dealer or a florist they can select an appropriate short video and personalise it with logo and contact details – without having to invest in shooting any original video footage.

As local newspaper sites grow in popularity, many local publishers now offer video advertising. More often than not, these online publishers roll up the fee for producing the advert into the cost of delivering it to an online audience, which can be a very cost effective method of getting involved with video.

Another way of getting into video based advertising without having to shoot your own video content is to buy overlay advertising. These ads come in the form of clickable graphics or text that appears on top of video content that audiences are watching. 

Most video ads are sold on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis, meaning you pay based on a rate for a thousand impressions or opportunities to view your advert. However there are some publishers who may be open to payment based on other models, such as cost per click.  

Cost control through accurate targeting

Getting the targeting right is obviously essential to controlling costs, and there are numerous factors that can come into play. Demographic, contextual (related to the content on the page in which the ad appears), behavioural (based upon content a user has looked at recently) and geographic (country, county and city) variables can be used for targeting, as well as specific keywords/tags or simply deciding to place your in-stream ad within specific videos. 

You might be able to approach specific publishers directly, but another option is to work with video ad networks which act as aggregators, bringing ad ‘inventory’ together from a number of sites. They include publishers amalgamating space across their own sites, display advertising networks seeking to expand into video, and specialist niche networks capitalising on the opportunities offered by video within specific sectors or types of online publication.

To help advertisers manage costs and ensure accountability the good news is that most publishers and networks will be able provide data to help track your video campaign including the number of impressions, completed plays and the volume of click-throughs.
Get more ‘bang for your buck’

Wherever you decide to place your video advert, you should aim to maximise the ‘bang for your buck’ by using the content in other ways. You can upload it to YouTube, host it on your company web site, send it to customers via email and share it on your blog, Twitter or Facebook. There are plenty of opportunities to reach others and expand your visibility.

Overall online video advertising is growing fast and, unlike its TV cousin, can achieve measurable results on a budget.

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